Diverting Divergent

Navy Pier Chicago

Chicago’s Navy Pier. Note the Ferris wheel, which is used in an important scene in the movie. Image courtesy of phaewilk, Morguefile.

Here we go again.

Once again, I’m faced with the quandary of watching the movies or reading the books first. I’ve been watching bits of “Divergent” on YouTube, and it looks interesting. I’m aware that Veronica Roth’s books Divergent and Insurgent have already been made into movies. Currently, Allegiant has been split up into two parts and the first part is currently filming.

If you’re not familiar with this dystopian trilogy, the main character is Beatrice Prior (later called “Tris”). She lives in a society where people are separated into different factions: Abnegation (selfless), Amity (peaceful), Candor (honest), Erudite (learned) and Dauntless (brave). She goes through an aptitude test and discovers that she’s suited to more than one faction, which is dangerous in that society. Eventually, she chooses Dauntless and will have to permanently cut ties with her Abnegation family.

Basically, Tris has to leave her home, grow up and become her society’s version of a Navy SEAL. And that’s where it all starts.

I spotted Divergent: Official Illustrated Movie Companion by Kate Egan on a recent library trip and decided to take a look. I’m always interested in the behind-the-scenes story of how a movie is made: how they find a screenwriter, choose a director, cast the film, choose the locations, pick the actors and get going. Kate Egan’s done a marvelous job explaining it all.

Even more interesting is what inspired the book. At the time, Veronica Roth was a college student studying exposure therapy in a psychology class. She imagined someone jumping off a building as a way of facing their fear, imagined what would motivate that person as part of a group, got the idea for other factions and had a utopian society evolve from that. Originally, her character was a male called Tobias but the story later received a rewrite featuring a young girl named Tris. The book got published, did well on the New York Times Best Sellers list and became a movie filmed in Chicago.

The book has a ton of good photographs and stories, so if you’re a fan, it’s well worth reading. I guess I’m going to have to track down either the movies or the books to get the whole story. Although I’m having problems figuring out which to tackle first….any suggestions, blog readers?

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11 Comments

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11 responses to “Diverting Divergent

  1. I saw the film on the plane. I found the plot line a bit tired, similar to another teen dystopia movie. Lacked grit. Well I guess it was for teenagers.

  2. I found the series before it became so popular and read them all before watching the movies. As always, there is so much more to the book than the movie. I do like what they’ve done with the movies, especially with the dynamics between Tris and Tobias.

    • Isn’t it interesting how telling a story visually (as in movie making) can bring such a greater dimension to the author’s words? So much can be conveyed about a society, an environment or a character through clever editing and acting. Martin Scorsese is a genius in this way.

  3. My theory is as follows. If you recently saw the movie, don’t read the book for at least a few weeks until the memory fades a bit. If you just read the book, don’t see the movie right away. Wait, again, until the memory isn’t right up front. Because the book will never match the movie or vice versa and each needs to be judged on its own merits. Different art forms, different requirements.

  4. My daughter and I read the books before seeing the movies. I agree with the above comment. I think there was a good transfer from book to movie. There is similarity to the Hunger Game series, but still a different underlying premise as to how the world got this way and a different approach to dealing with it (factions in an isolated society vs. sectors of society isolated from one another and dominated by the wealthiest one). We found it thought provoking and entertaining.

    • Now I’m even more curious to read the books and see the movies. But as Marilyn suggested in an earlier comment, I should take a break between one and the other to properly judge both on their artistic merits.

  5. I always like the behind the scenes stuff.
    The first movie? I got about halfway through before yawn, bored, trite. Maybe the books are better, but the concept is so familiar from so many other sci-fi books (I used to read a ton of sci-fi)- while each has their own quirks and focus, I just haven’t been able to get motivated to read the books or see more of the movies

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